I am doing my masters in Mathematics in Germany and I wanted to switch my major area from Geometry to Probability Theory after my first year, so that after my masters I can get a PhD in Statistics.

This would mean that I would finish my master's degree in 3 years instead of 2. Is that negatively viewed by graduate admissions committees in US / Europe?

Edit 1: The candidate must write their masters thesis in the major area and also get more than a certain number of credit points in the major area

Edit 2: I might be getting the opportunity to be a TA in the stochastics department if I do take another year. So money might not be ab issue(except maybe in the mid semester break)


1 Answer 1


A Master's in Mathematics is presumably what is necessary for a PhD in Statistics (check with universities you'll apply to): There's no need to switch. It'll cost time and money. Instead, change the classes you'll take as soon as possible.

Bureaucrats are looking to tick-boxes: They'll presumably be looking for a undergraduate-, postgraduate-degree, or both in Mathematics. They'll likely not consider the classes you took.

A PhD supervisor may be interested in the courses you've taken. Their opinions will vary considerably. Get in touch with some candidate supervisors and ask them.

To a supervisor, a Master's with fifty percent more classes may make you more appealing to a candidate with fewer classes. But, it isn't necessary, so I'd suggest you don't give-up a year. You can learn whatever you don't know during your PhD.

  • This would probably be more suitable to answer the OP's other question.
    – GoodDeeds
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 15:13
  • This might result in me not being able to take as many courses in stochastics and other applied fields(data science/computational biology) as one has to earn greater than a certain amount of credits in the major area. Also I would get the chance to do research in stochastics VS doing research in differential geometry. It seems to me that the former might be of greater value when applying for a PhD in statistics
    – user385655
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 15:41
  • Also I might be getting the opportunity to be a TA for the stochastics department in the 3rd year. So money will not be an issue(except maybe in the mid semester break) However the loss of time is definitely valid
    – user385655
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 15:48
  • @user385655 (I've edited upon reading your comments.) I note: Fewer classes doesn't necessarily matter. Is it necessary to major in an area at your institute?
    – user2768
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 16:58
  • 1
    @hejseb The opening line of my answer was intended to deal with exactly that. (I'll edit to clarify.)
    – user2768
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 17:08

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